The Seventh Treatise
A flower from the garden of the Qur’an
Every living creature is like a regular soldier who works on behalf of the king and in his name. You are mistaken if you think you are your own lord, for you are subject to perishing.
The absolute order and balance observed in the universe are two of the principles of the All-Merciful, and two chapters from the Manifest Book and the Book of the Universe. The Qur’an expounds or translates these two books, the index of the two chapters, and the concise summary of the two principles.
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
All praise be to God, the All-Wise Ruler Who has ordered and organized this universe with the laws of His way of acting, and has given it a certain shape and form with the principles of His Decree and Destiny. He has built it with the rules of His Will and Wisdom, decorated it with the standards of His Favoring and Mercy, and illuminated it with the manifestations of His Names and Attributes. He is the All-Powerful, Self-Subsistent and Ever-Lasting.
This universe, with all its outer and inner features and properties, contents, decorations, and beauty, is no more than the lines of the Pen of His Decree and Destiny. It is the designs of the compasses of His Knowledge and Wisdom, the decorations of the “Bright Hand” of His Art and Favoring. The universe consists of the flower gardens of His Kindness and Munificence, the fruits of His gushing Mercy and Benevolence, and the gleams of the manifestations of His Absolute Beauty and Perfection. May His Glory be exalted! May He receive infinite praise!
O One Who has manifested all those wonderful creatures through His Names’ lightning-like manifestation. O One in relation to Whose Power the minutest particles and planets are the same (in creation and direction). O One Who has inscribed all those adorned worlds according to the measures of the Manifest Book—the source of the order and balance.
Before every pause and start by which all particles and compounds of the universe start moving, we offer You the testimony of belief: We testify that there is no god but You—You are One, without partner. We testify that Muhammad is Your servant and Messenger, whom You sent as a mercy for all worlds.
O God, bestow peace and blessings on him, and his Family and Companions, to the number of the Qur’an’s letters. By your permission, it takes on forms in the mirrors of air molecules during their recitation by every reciter, from the first day of its revelation to the Day of Resurrection.
O WRETCHED SAID! YOUR LIVELIHOOD REACHES YOU THROUGH another’s choice or without the intervention of free choice. The latter comes in God’s Name and for His sake. Receive it and eat it saying God’s Name and thanking Him alone. If something comes to you through choice, only receive and eat it if God’s Name has been invoked. When you are given something to eat, remember or consider its real Owner and direct your attention to Him—as alluded to in: Eat not of that on which God’s Name is not mentioned (6:121).
However, if they give it and you have to receive it, invoke God’s Name on it and consider the One Who has bestowed it on that person (who gives it to you) and on you. Consider the act of bestowing in what is bestowed, and the real Bestower in the act of bestowing. Such consideration means giving thanks. Then, thank the person through whom that thing has reached you, as it has come to you through him or her. But beware, O my heart, that you first consider the real Bestower.
In short, mention God’s Name twice on that which comes to you through someone else, and once on that which comes to you through no one. Do not take the means for a real cause. If you get something through someone’s action, you suppose that that particular action is the real reason why it came to you. But such a view is mistaken. If you think a thing is absent due to the absence of something, act, or person, you ascribe its existence to the existence of that thing, act, or person. But according to God’s way of acting, the absence of one condition, part, or cause necessary for a thing’s existence results in that thing’s absence, for its existence depends on the existence of all conditions, parts, or causes. So, can one entrusted with opening and closing the main valve of the irrigation canals that water a garden’s flowers claim that he or she is the real maker and owner of those plants? This helps us to understand the extent of our unawareness and forgetfulness of the real Maker, Owner, and Director, and of associating partners with Him unknowingly.
BEWARE, O MY HEART, that you do not ascribe any work or product resulting from a group’s effort to yourself or to the group’s representative, leader, or guide. Doing so is a grave error that will cause you to feel a false and awful self-conceit, arrogance, and egotism. It opens the door to associating partners with God unknowingly, for the means is taken for the doer, with the result that you seek and appeal to the means, asking the “doorman” for what belongs to the “king.”
BEWARE, O MY HEART. Whenever a certain effusion of spiritual radiance and ecstasy reaches you through someone, do not think that he or she is its source, for he or she is nothing more than a means of reflecting [like a mirror] what is manifested in him or her. However, your devotion to that person causes you to imagine that what flows to your heart from the Director of Hearts is first received by your spiritual guide and then reflected to you consciously. You resemble those who focus on a piece of glass and, after a certain period of concentration, begin to travel in the World of Symbols or Immaterial Forms, see some marvels, and think that they really appear or are manifested in the mirror. Such a view is mistaken.
KNOW, O SEEKER OF HELP from [material or natural] causes. You have chosen the wrong source and are making a wrong appeal, just like one who considers gaining weight to be a sign of good health when in reality it is due to an illness.
Imagine that you see a palace being built of different marvelous jewels. But some can be found only in China, others only in Morocco or Yemen, and still some others only in Siberia. Would you not say that only one who dominates the whole world, who can have anything he wants brought to him whenever he wants it, can build that palace?
Each living thing is like a building, and each animal is like a Divine palace. Humanity is the most beautiful and wonderful palace [its jewels— particles or atoms—are gathered from many worlds: the worlds of spirits and symbols, the Supreme Guarded Tablet, and from the worlds of air, water, earth, light, and fire]. Human needs are infinite, and human desires encompass the heavens and Earth. As human beings have connections with everything in this world and the Hereafter, they have no right to pray and worship that which is not the One Who dominates Earth and heavens and holds the reins of the world and the Hereafter.
KNOW, O MY HEART, that the stupidest people are those who do not recognize the sun while seeing its image in a mirror, but rather love the mirror and seek to preserve it so that they can hold onto the sun permanently. If only they understood that the sun does not perish or disappear when the mirror does, they would direct their love only to the sun itself. A reflection does not depend on the mirror for its permanence; rather, the mirror’s permanence depends on it, whereas the original object is self-subsistent. The permanence of the mirror’s “liveliness” and its shining [with the sun in it] are possible only through the permanence of the sun’s manifestations and the mirror’s facing the sun. Your heart is like that mirror, and the love of permanence implanted in your nature must be directed only to what is manifested in it. So, say: “O Permanent One, You are the Permanent,” and turn to Him so that you may become permanent. Then let mortality do as it wishes, for we do not mind whatever befalls us.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the All-Wise Creator has implanted within human nature a strange characteristic: Since the world cannot contain you, you frequently utter, as if in a suffocating dungeon, a sound of disgust. Yet something as small as a mustard seed, a cell, a memory, or a minute of time so absorbs you that you are lost in it and passionately attracted to it. The Creator has given you such faculties that some of them would not be satisfied even if they could swallow the world. Others are bored with microscopic particles and cannot tolerate even a hair out of place. You know that your eye cannot work properly if there is a hair in it.
Be alert and careful of what you do so that you will not ruin yourself and your most subtle faculties. An (unlawful) morsel or a word, an (illicit) glance, beckoning, or kiss can ruin you. Everything has an aspect of nonexistence that can ruin and swallow you. Look at the mirror in your hand, and see how the sky and its stars are contained in it. See how the Truth inscribes most of your acts or deeds and even most of your life in your mustard seed-sized memory.67 Glory be to Him, the All-Powerful, the Self-Subsistent.
Know, O friend, that your private world is a grave-like, narrow place. But since its “walls” are made of “glass,” you see it as spacious. With respect to this worldly life’s material dimension, the past has finished and the future does not exist. However, as your world’s two mirror-like walls face each other, they come together at the point of your present time and make it difficult for you to distinguish between what is real and what is reflected [in them]. The “line” of your present extends into [your past and future] and becomes an area. When misfortune moves you, you strike your head against the walls, suffer disappointment, and lose sleep. You see your world as narrower than a grave and a bridge, and your life moves faster than a river and even lightning.
KNOW, O ONE WHO WANTS TO SEE the witnesses of the manifestations of the Divine Name the All-Recording and Preserving. This Name is referred to in: Whoever does an atom’s weight of good shall see it, and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil shall see it (99:7-8) and Not an atom’s weight in Earth and in heaven escapes your Lord, nor is there anything smaller or greater, but it is in a Manifest Book (10:61).
KNOW, O ONE WHO WANTS TO SEE them in the Book of the Universe’s sheets, inscribed according to the Manifest Book’s standards.68 Take a handful of flower and tree seeds, which, despite being different species are so similar that you cannot distinguish between them, and bury them together in darkness—the darkness of simple, lifeless-seeming soil. Then, sprinkle on them water—water that has no measure and standards to know and distinguish them. It just goes wherever you sprinkle it. Look at them in the spring, the time of the yearly resurrection when nature comes to life again.
See how those mingled seeds resembling one another obey the orders of creation given by the All-Wise Creator (by producing various flowers and trees) to manifest the perfection of His Wisdom, Knowledge, Will, Purpose, Discernment, and Consciousness. Do you not see that these flowers have been adorned for you and smile at you, making them loved by you? Do you not see that these fruits sharpening your appetite invite you to themselves and sacrifice themselves to you?
The Creator has changed these seeds into a Paradise-like garden full of various flowers and trees. Can you see in it any error or defect? Then look again! Can you see any rift? (67:3). The All-Preserving One has given each seed exactly and completely what was passed on to it from its parent’s property. The One Who does this is He Who destroys and rebuilds the universe on the Last Day. The perfect recording and preserving seen here, even in trifling, perishable things, is an undeniable evidence for the recording and preservation of important things, whose effects extend into eternity. The deeds and works of those honored with ruling Earth according to Divine laws are recorded, as are the acts and words of those who assumed the Supreme Trust, and the good and evil deeds of the servants of the One, the Single. Does humanity think that it will be left to its own devices, uncontrolled, without purpose? (75:36). Humanity will not be left to its own devices, for all people journey to eternity, where they account for their deeds and words.
This is only one of the infinite number of examples or analogies of the Divine act of recording and preserving. Glory be to Him, the All-Preserving, All-Controlling, All-Witnessing, All-Reckoning.
KNOW, O HEEDLESS SAID! Do not set your heart on what will abandon you when both it and this world are destroyed. How can you set your heart on what will leave you when you die, on what will not accompany you on your journey to the intermediate world of the grave? How can you count on what will abandon you in one or two years, debiting your account with its sins, and on what forsakes you at the very moment you have obtained it?
Have no care for what will not accompany you on your journey to eternity, what perishes during the world’s tumults and convulsions, the continuously changing conditions of the intermediate world of the grave, and the Hereafter’s revolutions. Do you not see that something in you is pleased only with eternity and the Eternal, that it turns only to Him and lowers itself only before Him? This is the king of your faculties. Obey it, for it obeys the command of its All-Wise Creator.
KNOW, O MY FRIEND, that I saw myself in a dream telling people: “It is a Qur’anic principle that you must not consider anything other than Him, the Glorious One, as greater than you and so begin to worship it, or that you consider yourself greater than something and so claim absolute dominion over it. That which is other than Him is equal to anything else in its distance from being the Object of Worship and in respect of its being a created thing.”
KNOW, O HEEDLESS SAID! You look around and, believing the world to be stable and perpetual, think you are stable and perpetual. Therefore the world’s final destruction scares you, as though you would live until that destruction. But this is not true, for you and your own world are decaying every moment. Due to this illusion, you are like one who holds a mirror reflecting a mansion, a town, or a garden. The least movement or change of the mirror causes a tumult in that reflected image with which the person is so content. Their apparent, seeming permanence does not benefit you, for your share is only what the mirror reflects. Consider your mirror and how both it and the reflection can perish at any moment. Do not burden it with what it cannot bear.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the All-Wise Creator usually revives that which is of great value. That is, He does not let those valuable things perish permanently through the changes of seasons, years, and centuries; rather, He continually returns them to life. When you look at the types of resurrection occurring daily, yearly, and every century, you see this established, regular law. Scientists agree that humanity is the most perfect fruit of the Tree of Creation and has the greatest importance and value. As each person is like a species of other living beings, each person will be resurrected on Judgment Day with his or her exact identity and body, title and form.
KNOW, O IGNORANT, ARROGANT SOUL, that every station or position has many different shadows. How can a shadow be equal to the original? How can one who sees the king’s throne reflected in water or dreams of sitting upon it think that he or she is the king or equal to the king? How can one who sees stars reflected in a pool and imagines himself or herself to be in the sky be like one who journeys among or above stars? Those who rely on personal intellect and knowledge while traveling in the inner dimension of existence are in perilous arrogance, for although their station is only a shadow of the original, they are proud of their knowledge. They attribute it to themselves, seeing themselves as comparable with that station’s real owner. They make a serious mistake and, due to their conceit, begin to say in ingratitude: “This has been given to me because of my knowledge.” But this is only a means to test them.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the phrases or sentences usually coming at the end of a Qur’anic verse have connections with the actual verses, as well as with the subject matter being discussed, the sura, and the entire Qur’an. They connect the verses with one another, causing one to recollect and consider them. Do not judge what is stated therein only by the meanings of the verses in which they are found, nor seek their grandeur only where they are mentioned.
For example: Thus We detail the signs and revelations (7:174); We make recurring explanations in this Qur’an (17:41); We coined for humanity in the Qur’an all kinds of similitudes (30:58); Surely, God is All-Dignified, All-Wise (9:58); Surely, God is All-Knowing, All-Powerful (16:70); that You may reflect (51:49); that You may deserve God’s protection (2:183) and similar verses have eyes looking at most of the Qur’anic verses, most of God’s signs of creation, and the general conditions and affairs of human life and characteristics. These concluding phrases or sentences, which seal and confirm the verses, draw the reader’s attention from the mingled and detailed particular affairs to universal and inclusive laws and truths, and toward higher aims and purposes.
KNOW, O MY HEART, that Satan deceives you by calling to your attention that which is infinitely abundant in order to diminish the value of the bounties conferred on you. To save yourself from this deception, consider how needy and unable you are to meet even your own needs. Reflect upon the purposive wisdom in the bounties you are given, and the purposeful act of giving bounties. Meditate on the boundless manifestations of Divine Power, Knowledge, and Will, on the purposes for your existence, and on its consequences with respect to the One Who has given you existence, the One Who owns the All-Beautiful Names.
Satan also deceives you through your egotism and formidable conceit. He calls small creatures and vermin to your attention, asking: “What is the use of creating such short-lived things?” thereby implying that life’s purpose lies in life itself and derives its value from perpetuity. This argument suggests that creating short-lived creatures is meaningless, and thus causes you to reduce the value of the mercy, favoring, and perfect artistry in what you observe. This, in turn, causes you to forget or even deny the Maker. Respond to Satan’s deception by showing him heaven with its stars, and Earth with its animate creatures. Compared with you, their huge size will awaken you. Look at your own cells, and see how marvelous they are and how wonderfully they fulfill their tasks. See what vital tasks your white and red blood corpuscles perform while you are alive. Look at the subtle faculties springing from your heart.
KNOW, O EUROPE! There are two of you: One that, benefiting from the religion of Jesus and Islamic civilization, has made human life more comfortable through its inventions; and another one that, based on naturalistic and materialistic philosophy, opposes the revealed religions. The evil of the latter surpasses the good of the former, and is the cause of most human wretchedness and suffering. I now address this second Europe:
You have taken in your right hand the dark, deviating philosophy and in your left hand the corrupt, harmful civilization. And then you claim that humanity’s happiness lies in them. I wish your hands were broken, and your two offerings will cause you to die.
O spreader of unbelief and ingratitude! Can one with a corrupt conscience and mental and spiritual illnesses be happy with rich clothes and worldly possessions? For one disappointed or disillusioned by the non-fulfillment of even one expectation, sweetness turns sour, pleasure changes into pain, and the world becomes narrow. How can one exposed to your evil, whose heart and spirit have been stricken with your misguidance and left frustrated and distressed, find happiness with what you offer? Can one be described as happy when his or her body is in a deceiving, fleeting paradisiacal state while his or her spirit and heart are in hellish torment?
Listen, O intriguing and corrupting spirit, to what I tell you. You have brought many perils and troubles upon humanity. Consider the following parable: There are two roads before us. We choose one and begin to walk. At every step helpless people are attacked by thugs who rob them of everything, destroy their houses, and beat them so savagely that even heaven weeps for them. Wherever we look we see the same scene, filled with the oppressors’ shouts and the oppressed one’s cries and lamentations. Since we feel pain when others are in pain, our conscience cannot bear such injustice and lamentation. So, those who see such events and cannot prevent them lose hope and abandon all human feelings. No longer concerned with others’ destruction—so long as they remain safe—they surrender to the utmost degree of savagery.
O Europe! You have used your genius to bring humanity to this hellish state as a “gift” and then, seeing that this illness is incurable, you offer people charming amusements and fancies as a cure to anaesthetize them. However, your cure will kill you.
Taking the other road, we see something quite different: At every station, place, and town, soldiers perform their duties. Now and then the king’s officials come, take the weapons and other belongings lent to them by the government, and give them their discharge papers. The soldiers are pleased, although outwardly they look sad, for now they can return to their king. If the officials meet a recruit who does not know them, that recruit tells them: “I am the king’s soldier and in his service. My final destination is with him. If he has sent you here, welcome. If not, stay away, for no matter how many of you there are I will fight with you (not for myself) to preserve my lord’s trust and protect his royal dignity and honor.”
Thus we constantly see new troops concentrated or mobilized with joy and praises of the king (birth) while many others are discharged with contentment and glorify the king (death). The Qur’an offers humanity a gift. If people respect it and use it as a guide, they will enter this second road. Then no fear shall come upon them, neither shall they grieve (10:62).
O Europe! You assume that all living creatures are their own lords, work in their own name and for their own pleasure, that their only aim in life is to survive. Do you not see the universal mutual helping among them, as established by their Creator? Plants help animals, and animals help humanity. But you see this as conflict and contention, and preach that life consists of conflict. Glory be to God! How can this be true? Can you not see that the particles or atoms of all foods help nourish the body’s cells? This mutual assistance results from everything obeying the order of a Munificent Lord, and proves that no living creature is the lord of itself.
Moreover, this is so because humanity, among all living agents, is the most honorable, as it is endowed with free choice and a wider field of activity. Despite this, our part even in our daily acts is miniscule. If this most honorable creature, one endowed with free will and the widest field of activity, has so little part in its own ownership and lordship, to what degree can other animate and lifeless things claim lordship over themselves?
O Europe! You have fallen into such error because your genius has caused you to forget your Lord—the Creator of everything. As a result, this illusion of your true nature has caused you to attribute all things and acts to (material) causes, and to share what belongs to God with false “claimants” to divinity. This compels all living beings to struggle with innumerable aversions and hostilities to satisfy their endless needs through an atom’s weight of power, a hair’s capacity of will, a single gleam’s light of consciousness, and a tiny sparkle of life. Whatever they have (in the name of power and will, consciousness and life) cannot satisfy even one of their needs. When misfortune visits them, they seek help from deaf and blind causes. But the appeals of unbelievers are futile (13:14).
Your dark and darkening genius has changed humanity’s day into a night illuminated with false, illusory lights. Students of your genius see every living being as the wretched people we saw along the first way, attacked by darkness from all sides. They see the world as an abode of lamentation, and all voices in it as wailings over death and groans of orphans.
Students completely educated by your genius become Pharaohs and tyrants who adore the meanest things and are attached to every beneficial means, as if they were their lords. They are apparently refractory, but so humble themselves for the sake of pleasures that they even kiss Satan’s feet for the meanest benefit. They appear to be very powerful, but as they have no point of support (in their inner worlds), they are in reality infinitely weak. Your students seek only to satisfy their stomachs and private parts, or to benefit their tribes (not in the tribe’s name but in that of personal interest, greed, and conceit). They love only themselves and sacrifice everything for it.
Sincere students of the Qur’an, however, are servants who do not lower themselves even before the greatest creature or interest, even if it be Paradise. They are mild and gentle, but only humble themselves before their Creator and with His permission. They are poor, but the richest of all through what their Munificent Lord has stored in them; weak, but the strongest of all through their Master’s strength, Whose power is infinite. Let alone seeking this fleeting world as their aim in life, they do not seek even to enter Paradise, and are not pleased with it. [Their aim is to obtain the pleasure of their Lord only.]
Consider the degree of difference between these two groups’ objectives. Students of the Qur’an see even the greatest things, such as the Supreme Throne of God and the sun, as helpless in themselves, dutiful, and subjugated. Their spirits have a very strong relation with all pious inhabitants of the heavens and Earth, and they pray for them as sincerely as they pray for their own families.
Consider their qualities: Those in the first group flee from even their own family members to pursue their own interest; those in the second group regard all servants of God as family members. The Qur’an gives its students all particles in the universe to use as prayer beads to glorify God. In place of the 99-bead rosary, it gives them all the atomic chains in the universe to mention their Lord to an infinite degree.
Look at such saintly students of that Divine Revelation as ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, al-Rufa‘i,69 or al-Shadhili, and see how they used everything in the universe to glorify, mention, and praise God to an infinite degree. They saw their actions as small, and so stretched their hands to what is infinite and referred to the Knower of the Unseen’s knowledge. Look at these people. Although defeated by a microbe and driven to distress and despair by the least grief and anxiety, see to what exalted ranks they rise, to what extent their faculties are developed by the Qur’an’s enlightening guidance. Such people regard the world and its contents as insufficient to say their beads, and belittle Paradise as the aim of their praise and glorification. Despite this, they do not consider themselves greater and more virtuous than the least of God’s creatures.
The Qur’an guides humanity. O humanity, what you hold in your hand is a trust and belongs to the Owner (of all things), Who has power over and knows everything. He pities you and is munificent. He buys from you His property that He entrusted to you, to preserve it on your behalf so that you will not lose it. He gives you a very great price in return. Like a soldier, you have responsibilities and certain duties, so act in His Name and for His sake. He provides you with whatever you need and protects you against whatever you cannot overcome.
The purpose of life is to reflect the manifestations of His Names and Essential Qualities. When misfortune visits you, say: “We are God’s and in His service. If you have come with His permission, welcome. We are returning unto Him and desire a vision of Him. He will free us from life’s duties and difficulties whenever He wishes. If, O misfortune, this will happen by your hand, it is alright. However, if He has allowed you to come to test my truthfulness to His trust, but has not allowed me to submit myself to you, then I will never submit His trust—the life He has given me.”
This is the reality of the two ways. But people vary in guidance and misguidance, and heedlessness has many degrees. The degree of heedlessness that has caught the “civilized” has made its people immune to acute pain. However, increased scientific sensitivity and the warning of death may yet rend this veil of heedlessness asunder.
O YOUNG PEOPLE, especially those in Muslim lands! After you have suffered such misfortune at the hands of this second Europe, will you still follow its debaucheries and ideas and unconsciously join its ranks? Does this not contradict your claim of patriotism, as it means despising devotion to national values and ridiculing the nation? May God guide us and you to the Straight Path.
KNOW, O FRIEND shaken by the great numbers of unbelievers and their shared denial of some truths of belief. Value is not judged by quantity. If a man or a woman cannot remain human, they turn into devilish animals. As they advance in animalistic greed and appetites, like many of those who deny religion, they increase in bestiality. In the same way, you see that this world contains far more (real) animals than human beings, although human beings are God’s vicegerents. [This shows that value lies in quality, not quantity.] Moreover, denial is a negation, but two people who affirm are preferred to 1,000 people who negate.
What is an unbeliever or an atheist? They are people who do not believe in religion, a species created to improve material life in this world and the Fire (in the other). They may serve as a means of comparison in understanding the degrees of the Almighty’s blessings upon believers. They agree on denying the Truth, but their agreement has no weight, for denial, even if in the form of affirmation, is negation, repudiation, rejection, ignorance, and acceptance of non-existence.
For example, if all but two people in Istanbul rejected the sighting of the crescent moon (at the beginning of Ramadan), and those two state that they have seen it, their testimony is preferred, for they support each other. In other words, two affirmations are considered stronger than any number of negations. Affirmation relates to the reality or fact itself, whereas negation depends on the one who negates. If a thick cloud makes it impossible for all people, except a few, to see the sun, can we say that the sun is not there? Of course not, for those who cannot see it will say: “I cannot see the sun,” not “The sun does not exist.”
Those who negate or deny the truths or essentials of belief offer similar excuses. But as their denials do not corroborate one another, they do not support one another. Such agreement is like coming together to go through a narrow hole; it is useless and has no weight or value.
KNOW, O YOU WHO URGE MUSLIMS to strive for worldly life and material progress. Be careful, for some of the ropes connecting them to religion are thin. Take care that they are not broken and that their social life is not greatly harmed, for unlike unbelievers, apostates go completely bad and cause corruption. Unlike followers of other revealed religions living among Muslims, people who commit major sins openly and without shame are treated like traitors. Their testimony is not accepted in court, for their consciences are guilty and corrupt.
Do not be deceived by the great numbers of such transgressors, for they are not pleased with their transgression. Without seeking transgression, they have found themselves in it. Almost all transgressors want to be pious and devout Muslims, to see their superiors as pious and righteous. Do you think that Muslims never love the world and need awakening, that they forget their share here? It is not so; rather, greed has intensified and caused believers to lose.
Also, many factors invite people to the world: one’s carnal self, needs, passions, desires, Satan, bad friends like you, the sweetness of immediate profit, and the like, while those inviting to the Hereafter are few. Patriotic feelings and efforts should add to the few. Do you think that our poverty comes from our ascetic tendencies? No! Do you not see that the Magians, Buddhists, and others subjected to Europe’s assaults and domination are poorer than us? Do you not see that the Muslims have more than they need to make ends meet and live well enough, but that it is usurped and swindled from them by Westerners?
If you expect that following their civilization will lead to better rule and security in your country, you are mistaken, for controlling and governing a hundred transgressors with bad morals and weak, shaken belief is harder than doing the same with thousands of pious believers. Muslims do not need to be urged to strive greedily for the world. What they need is a good organization of labor, arrangement of working hours, profitable cooperation, and internal security. These are possible only through awareness of God and piety.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that out of His perfect Mercy, the Truth has included part of the reward for service in serving, and part of the reward for action in acting. Thus even lifeless creatures obey God’s commands of creation and operation of the universe with perfect zeal and pleasure. By doing so, they reflect the manifestations of the Names of the Light of Lights. A minute seed buried in the ground, for example, turns to the sun with its pure heart and, by making its heart the sun’s throne, smiles at your face. Suppose that minute particles and compounds have consciousness, like the above-mentioned seed developing from a very simple object to one of flourishing and illumination. They take pleasure from receiving and reflecting the manifestations of the Names of the One of absolute Majesty, Beauty, and Perfection, and thereby realize a great development through obeying the Creator’s commands.
Look at how your senses and organs enable you and humanity as a whole to survive. They take so much pleasure in serving that they are tormented if they can no longer serve. See how much pleasure animals get from fulfilling their duties. Do you not see that the rooster prefers hens to itself and calls them to eat the food it happens to find? It is understood from its manner that it does so with zeal, pleasure, and pride. Also, look at the hen leading its chicks. Like other mothers, it leaves them only when they can take care of themselves. This shows that the hen does this not for its own sake or perfection, but for the sake of Him Who employs it and, out of His Mercy, gives it pleasure in fulfilling its task.
Look at plants and trees obeying their Creator’s commands. Their adornment and scent display their zeal, and their sacrifice of themselves for their sprouts and fruits shows that their pleasure lies in obeying those commands. It is as if they ask the purest sustenance from the door of Mercy and, with their Lord’s permission, feed their fruits with it. A fig tree feeds on mud but supplies its figs with pure milk taken from the treasury of Mercy; a pomegranate tree drinks water but offers its fruits pure sherbet given to it by its Lord. Look at the seeds in the ground and see how, like a prisoner in a very narrow dungeon who earnestly desires to go out to a garden, they are zealous to grow and send shoots into the air.
This Divine law prevalent throughout the universe shows that an inactive thing gets more tired than an active, ever-renewed one, for while the former complains about the slowness of time and its life, the latter is full of thanks. Comfort lies in fighting with troubles and difficulties, while trouble lies in sitting idly.
When you look at lifeless things, you see that the potentiality in them moves in order to be realized. It is almost as if they feel pleasure in that movement. Do you not see how a drop of water opens its heart enthusiastically when its Originator commands it to do so? Despite its weakness and tenderness, when it hears its Lord command: “O water! Turn into ice and expand,” it “feels” such intense zeal that it can crack hard iron.
All movement and effort in the universe, without exception, depend on the law of Destiny and are determined and controlled by Divine Power. They manifest themselves by the Divine command of creation containing Knowledge, Will, and even Power. Each particle or atom, compound, and living creature is like a soldier who has relations with all appropriate military spheres and duties. For example, a particle in one cell of your eye has relations with your eye, your facial nerves, your body’s veins, and so on as necessary. So, in the tongue of its essential impotence to perform the duties with which it is charged in the order of the universe and the maintenance of the balance, everything testifies to the necessary existence of the All-Powerful One.
Order and balance are two important, subtle “chapters” of the visible Book of the Universe. How, for example, could a particle or a bee read that book in the hands of the One Who will roll up the heavens as rolling up a scroll? Although itself an individual, everything bears witness to the Unity of the Necessarily Existent-Being, the Truth, the Glorified through its relations with all other compounds and duties, and through its position with respect to all parts of those compounds.
The All-Wise Creator determined for everything, specific to it and according to its needs, principles out of the two chapters—order and balance—of the visible Book of the Universe. When it acts according to those principles, it acts, even though unconsciously, in compliance with the laws of that book.
For example, when a gnat comes to the world, it immediately attacks a person’s face with its stinger to get the water of life for itself. Who taught it this art of fighting? If I were in its place, I would have been able to learn it only after a long period of instruction and many trials. The same is true for all other animals and plants, for the absolutely Generous One has given each one a “guidebook” written in the ink of pleasure and need. See how He has included the secrets of the two chapters of the visible Book of the Universe in the “guidebook” inserted in the head of, for example, a bee. The key to these secrets is the pleasure particular to the bee charged with certain tasks.
Based on what has been said already, you can draw a significant message, one of many, through belief out of: My Mercy embraces all things (7:156); There is nothing that does not glorify Him with praise, but you do not understand their praising (17:44); and When He wills a thing, His command is only saying to it: “Be!” and it is. Glory be to Him in Whose Hand the dominion of all things is, and unto Him you are returning (36:82-83).
KNOW, O ONE WHO CALLS Muslims to the world. You are wrong. Do you think that the essential purpose of one’s life is restricted to material progress, scientific and technological development, earning a livelihood, and other things connected with worldly life? The Lord and Ruler of creation, the One Who says: “Be!” says a word confirmed by existence, creation, realities, and the feelings and faculties included in human nature: I have not created jinn and humanity except to worship Me (51:56), and There is not a moving creature that bears its own provision, but God provides for it and you (29:60). Do you think that the One Who has made you and continually renews your body needs what you make in His Kingdom and your help in His disposal? Do you not see that even the most sophisticated thing you can make can never be equal in art and creation to a date palm, a bee, an eye, or a tongue?
KNOW, O HEEDLESS ONE, that it is inconceivable that the One Who created you does not know what happens to you while you move through social conditions and worldly circumstances. Whatever your beliefs and thoughts are, even if you are an atheist and a materialist, you must accept that there is a creative act, an art and a disposal in a sperm or an egg, a grain or a seed. Is it rational for you to think that whoever or whatever places a tree’s ingredients in its seed is unaware of the world of trees and of all its conditions and relations with other worlds? Or that the One Who splits the seed and makes it grow into a young plant and then into an elaborate tree does not see and observe the one who plants and then benefits from it, and its relations with animals, its environment, and what is happening in that environment?
Is it rational for you to imagine that the One Who forms and shapes the egg to hatch, and equips it with the tools needed by birds, does not see the bird’s conditions, world, and the species with which it has close relations? Is it conceivable that the Creator, the One Who created humanity, does not see humanity’s world, conditions, and events, although He created humanity from a seed and a fertilized egg through several stages (e.g., a clot suspended, tissue, bones, flesh, and another creation), gave it life and a form displaying artistry that can belong only to one with boundless knowledge, sight, and wisdom, and equipped it with the tools necessary to relate with most species and worlds? Or that He does not know humanity’s periods and the worlds in which people move with their bodies, feelings, spirit, intellect, imagination, and all other faculties that enable them to observe worlds and discern truths?
O heedless one! Do you think you are exempt from the intervention of the One Who stretches pomegranates to your hand by tree branches, and melons and watermelons by fiber-like stems, grown and prepared for you? Your heedlessness causes you to assume that the Maker of a melon is unaware of its eater. Your blindness causes you to imagine that the Maker of a pomegranate is unaware of what He does for those who eat it and are astonished at the artistry it displays, proclaiming: “Glory be to Him Who has formed and shaped me. How beautifully He has formed me”; for those who reflect on its beauty proclaiming: So blessed be God, the Best of Creators (23:14); and for those who think about its firm, perfect structure proclaiming: Should He not know, Who creates? He is the All-Subtle, the All-Aware (67:14). Or do you think that the One Who sends those fruits to satisfy our needs does not see and know us, or that He Who has scattered before us and throughout our world domesticated and other animals for our benefit does not observe us?
KNOW, O YOU WHO RELY on yourself, causes, and the world. You resemble a firefly that relies on its light and changes daylight with night, or a private who sees that his king favors and is kind to all people and even animals, but then says to himself: “What value do I have that will cause him to show me special consideration? Since my heart needs an affectionate, beloved one to protect and support me, I should find another protector and supporter.” So he sets out to do so without considering the law. They tell him:
Don’t you know that the king’s treasury can meet all your needs and those of all other soldiers? What is in your hand and in the hands of those to whom you appeal cannot meet even your smallest need, for you are surrounded by innumerable enemies and endless ambition. The king’s law doesn’t exclude you; rather, it includes everyone. Even if you were the only soldier, you would receive the same treatment as if the king were especially concerned with you, as his law encompasses all equally. Moreover, if the king is saintly and can be present in many places at once, he will not be unaware of your needs even for a moment. Each being’s needs are met appropriately, which shows that the king sees you in his overall favoring, is aware of each being, and is interested in the needs of the general public. He is like the sun, which illuminates every object and is seen in every transparent object while giving light to the world; or like the perfect, universal order prevailing in each thing amidst the apparent confusion arising from things being intermixed with each other.
In short, your Creator and Owner is more compassionate, munificent, and affectionate to you than any other friend or beloved could be. He knows your secrets and can meet your demands, even the greatest and most secret ones. So trust only Him.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the Book of the Universe (the Book of Power) is inscribed according to the measures of the Manifest Book (the Book of Knowledge or Destiny), which is like a lined paper placed under the former to be written in exact measures. The universal order and balance, two chapters of these two books and a line of connection between them, attest to this. They are also two titles of the two Grasps of the All-Merciful. All wet and dry things (everything) are included in the Manifest Book’s two chapters.
The Qur’an, issuing from the Divine Attribute of Speech, translates the books of the Seen and Unseen, the books of Power and Knowledge. It is the index of the two chapters, and the concise expression of the two Grasps. One principle of these three books issuing from the three Divine Attributes of Knowledge, Power, and Speech is that every living creature, indeed everything, is like a regular soldier or servant entrusted with special duties. They work for the sake and in the name of the King Who owns them—not for their own sake, ownership, or pleasure, but for the sake of the pleasure lying in fulfilling their duties. Whoever assumes and claims that they own themselves is subject to perishing, being torn to pieces.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the heavens are made without any visible rift. Their Maker is so mighty and dignified, glorified and great, that He easily created everything in its exact place. Nothing can escape His kingdom. Members of a species, such as fish and flies, are found mingled with one another, which shows that the Creator of one species and of all species is the same One. His is the kingdom and praise, creation and command, and judgment. There is no god but He.
KNOW, O FRIEND, that the Prophet and his Prophethood are the best, the epitome of the perfection and good shared by humanity. His way and religion are the most perfect expression of absolute happiness and pure beauty. We see in his creation superior perfection, articulate truth, distinguished good, and radiant beauty. Right and truth are found on the Prophet’s side; misguidance, illusion, and extinction on the other side. Out of the countless beauties and virtues that the Prophet brought, look at only this: The hearts and tongues of all believers in God’s Unity are united on many occasions, such as the five daily prayers and the Friday congregational and festival day prayers. At these times, each believer responds to the illustrious and majestic address of the Eternal Object of Worship with the sounds of the hearts of all believers, and their supplications and recitations. This vast agreement and encompassing solidarity are like the entire Earth speaking and praying, fulfilling the order: “Perform the prayer correctly,” which issued in all its awe from above the seven heavens.
By executing this order and participating in the huge congregation of praying believers, weak and helpless human beings, despite their being like a minute particle amidst those worlds, become servants loved by the Creator of Earth and heavens. They are honored with ruling on Earth in His Name, and become the head of all animate beings as well as the final purpose for the universe’s creation. If, as in the Unseen world, those countless exalters of God would say: “God is the Greatest” at the same moment during and after the festival’s congregational prayer, it would be equal to Earth’s exaltation—if it exalted as humanity does.
It would be as if Earth shook mightily on the festive day, exalting God with all its spheres and mountains, saying: “God is the Greatest” with its mouth of Mecca, with the sincerity of its heart of qibla—the Ka‘ba. The words coming out of its caves—the mouths of believers scattered throughout it, rather, throughout the intermediate world and the heavens—would rise in waves. May the Glory of Him Who has created Earth and made it like a cradle and a place of prostration for His servants be exalted and glorified.
KNOW, O ONE WHO WOULD LIKE TO SEE and reach knowledge of the Truth through arguments and evidence, through His signs and witnesses. Do not meddle with what happens around you by objecting. Do not approach what occurs to you with suspicion. Rather, extend your hands to seize the light appearing to you. Isolate yourself from the conditions of heedlessness, open yourself to those lights’ coming, and turn to them wholeheartedly.
It is my experience that there are three categories of witnesses and evidences of knowledge of God. First, those that are like water. You can feel and see them, but cannot hold them with your hands. Free yourself from random thoughts, and be absorbed in them with all your being. Do not regard them with criticism or an inquisitive manner, for they flow away and are not pleased with such actions.
Second, those that are like air. You can feel them, but cannot see or seize them. Expose your face, mouth, and spirit to those breezes of Mercy. Breathe them in by your spirit, rather than responding to them with your hands stretched out to seize them. Discard your criticism and suspicion, otherwise they disappear. It is not the hands in which these witnesses and evidences can be held.
Third, those that are like light. You can see them, but cannot touch or receive them. Turn to them with the eyes of your insight and expose your heart to them. Light can be seized and hunted only with light [the light of the heart and insight]. Do not extend your hand to it ambitiously, or measure it with material tools, for this will cause it to hide (but not extinguish) itself. It is not pleased with material or physical confinements, restrictions, and solid owners.
LOOK, O FRIEND, at the degree of the Qur’an’s mercy and affection for ordinary people. See how it respects and considers their simple understanding. It reiterates the clear signs inscribed on the foreheads of the heavens and Earth, and makes them easy to read, such as the creation of the heavens and Earth, sending down rain from heaven, and reviving the soil (each spring). Ordinary people can barely discern what is written in small, delicate letters. Consider the purity and eloquence of the Qur’anic expressions, how they relate to humanity what the Power has written on the sheets of the universe. It is as if the Qur’an is the recitation of the universe, its order and harmony, and the pronouncement of its Composer and His acts. Listen with a wakeful heart to such suras as the Tiding (78) and verses like: Say: “O God! The Lord of Sovereignty...” (3:26)
Although they should be kept secret, I write my heart’s supplications to my Lord. I expect the Almighty, out of His Mercy, to accept the speech of my book after death silences my tongue.
O Merciful Lord, Munificent God. My life and youth have passed in misuse of my willpower. What is left is only painful and humiliating sin, devastating and deviating pain and trouble, and annoying, paralyzing anxiety. With this heavy burden, diseased heart, and ashamed face, like my ancestors, beloved ones, relatives, and contemporaries, with utmost speed and out of my free will I am approaching the door of the grave, the house of loneliness on the way to eternity after separation from this transient, fleeting abode, which is subject to waning, and unpitying and deceiving for those who, like me, follow their carnal, evil-commanding selves.
O Compassionate, Munificent Lord. The appointed hour is at hand. I have put on my shroud, laid down in my coffin, bid farewell to my friends, and headed for my grave. I am crying at the door of Your Mercy: “Help! Help, O All-Affectionate, All-Bounteous One! Save me from the shame of rebellion!” Ah! I am in my shroud, standing beside my grave and, raising my head toward the door of Your Mercy, crying: “Help! Help, O All-Merciful, All-Affectionate One! Deliver me from the heavy burden of rebellion!” Ah! I am in my shroud, lying in my grave. Those who saw me off have left me. I am expecting Your forgiveness, seeing that there is no shelter and refuge except in You. I am crying: “Help! Help (me) against the narrowness of this place, the loneliness my rebellion has caused, and the ugliness of my face because of sin! O All-Merciful, All-Affectionate, All-Bounteous, All-Requiter (of good and evil), save me from the company of sins and rebellion.”
O God. Your Mercy is my refuge and my means to reach You. I complain of my anguish and sorrow unto You. O Munificent Creator, Compassionate Lord, Master, Guardian! Your impotent, heedless, ignorant, diseased, abject, sinful, old, wretched, and fugitive creature, Your work of art and Your servant has returned to Your door after 40 years, sheltering in Your Mercy, acknowledging his sin and error, addicted to illusion and ailments, and supplicating to You in utmost humility. If You admit him, forgive and pity him, for that is what is expected of You, the Most Compassionate of the Compassionate. Otherwise, what other door is there to be sought save Yours?
You are the Lord to be sought and the Truth to be worshipped. There is no god save You alone, Who has no partner.
In conclusion, I bear witness that there is no god but God, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.
67 The writer uses “most,” not “all,” because humanity is forgetful. (Tr.)
68 The Manifest Record signifies one aspect of Divine Knowledge and Commands in which everything has an essential, archetypal existence. It is an index and program of the Tree of Creation, a book of Divine Destiny, a register of Divine laws operative in the creation and life of the universe and its content. The Manifest Book signifies Divine Power and Will. Everything is given existence according to that Will’s law and that Power’s principles. Through the Manifest Record’s dictates, that is through Divine Destiny’s decree and instruction, Divine Power employs particles to create beings or manifest them on the “page” of time. For a more detailed explanation, see footnote 36. (Tr.)
69 Ahmad ibn ‘Ali ibn Yahya al-Rufa‘i (1120-84), founder of the Rufa‘iya Sufi order, is one of the most renowned and celebrated saints of Islam. (Tr.)